With little to no warning, COVID-19 hit and IT leaders were tasked with maintaining as much operational continuity as possible amid an unprecedented global lockdown: office closures, travel restrictions, social distancing, home quarantines and supply chain disruptions. Since technology mediates almost every single interaction in business, IT leaders have been the key players in their company’s crisis-response plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
IT priorities have shifted and IT leaders have had to pivot to help their organizations weather what was happening in the world. They have had to:
- Ensure their organization can manage the huge and sudden spike in the demand for remote-working capacity
- Protect against the ever-increasing cybersecurity risks with the shift to work-at-home models and cloud
- Keep remote workers connected
- Support the changing operational needs of the organization
- Support sudden and unexpected migrations to cloud technologies
We surveyed two-thousand CIOs, VPs of IT, and IT Directors and asked them to tell us how their priorities have shifted due to COVID-19 and what their biggest challenges and initiatives are for the remainder of 2020. The results tell a story about what IT leaders are most concerned about and what products and solutions they intend to direct IT budget toward. Pre-COVID, we saw more traditional technology initiatives in play. In this new, post-COVID world, we’re seeing and hearing that IT plans and priorities will never go back to what they were before.
COVID-19 sent everyone into a tailspin to address urgent issues and shift to remote work models. As that initial wave of urgency subsides and becomes the new normal, businesses are shifting priorities for 2020 to ensure that they can continue to operate securely and resiliently for these weird and uncertain times.
The purpose of this brief is to empower our partners to move forward for the rest of 2020 and pivot to ensure their sales and marketing strategies are aligned with IT leaders’ overwhelming top three pains and priorities in this new, post-COVID world. With the first part of the COVID-19 crisis handled, IT leaders are now turning their attention toward the long-term impacts of such an outbreak and subsequent quarantine on their overall business model and IT delivery.
Here are the results of our survey of 2000 IT leaders in March and April 2020:
|Cybersecurity/Information Security/Network Security||900||45.25%|
|Data Protection/Data Loss Prevention||857||43.09%|
|Compliance, Privacy and Ethics||610||30.67%|
|Backup and Recovery/Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity||584||29.36%|
|BYOD/Endpoint Security/Mobile Device Management||565||28.41%|
|Aging Infrastructure/End of Life||508||25.54%|
|Server and or Storage Performance/Speed||401||20.16%|
|Want to reduce costs by automating tasks||388||19.51%|
|Keeping up with growing volumes of data/Accelerating storage demands||342||17.19%|
|Data is complex/unstructured/ineffiecient silo sprawl||311||15.64%|
|Managing or storing data in a third party cloud environment||255||12.82%|
|Unlocking and leveraging insights from data||246||12.37%|
|Adopting AI/Machine Learning||238||11.97%|
|Network bandwidth/capacity issues||95||4.78%|
Top Three Priorities
Unquestionably, the three biggest concerns among IT leaders are IT security, data protection and cloud adoption.
Cybersecurity, Information Security, Network Security. COVID-19 is a crisis that has highlighted the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in organizations across the U.S. 45.25% of the IT leaders we surveyed said that Cybersecurity, Information Security and Network Security were top of mind for them. With more and more of their workflows digital and cloud-enabled and the exponential rise in remote workers, risk exposure is far greater and security of their information and networks are huge concerns. Spikes in phishing attacks, malware and ransomware attacks have increased. Not only are businesses being targeted, but end-users on laptops and mobile devices are being infected as well. The data shows that IT leaders have not only shifted to enable their remote workforce, but have also had to dynamically shift security to protect remote employees and the data and systems they access.
Data Protection/Data Loss Prevention. 43.09% of the CIOs, VPs of IT and IT Directors who responded to our survey reported Data Protection and Data Loss Prevention as one of their top three challenges amid the COVID outbreak. The shift to remote work models has generated a cluster of privacy, data protection, security and compliance questions. These challenges are driving the need for companies to ensure their data is secure and protected, as well as ensure that their data protection practices forward looking. Many data protection strategies were focused on company networks. Devices taken out of the office for remote work have been serious cause for concern when it comes to data protection and data loss prevention.
Cloud/Cloud Migration. The effort to maintain business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic put cloud technologies at the forefront for many organizations. 42.68% of the IT leaders who responded said that they are working on cloud adoption. Many organizations have been moving towards cloud as part of their digital transformation strategies and COVID-19 has been a catalyst to these initiatives, in some cases. In others, COVID’s impact has stamped out any barriers to cloud adoption. Cloud has been the answer to the immediate needs for remote business in response to COVID, but companies won’t return to their old ways when they’re on the other side of this. Many CIOs are saying that COVID-19’s impact to their business has opened up their eyes to pain points they weren’t aware of, which is driving more of a cloud or hybrid cloud strategy.
So What Does This Mean to You?
COVID-19 has ushered in a new normal and IT leaders are still finding their footing with it. Building a pathway to the future will hit straight to the heart of an organization’s strategy in a post-COVID world. Budgets worldwide are under incredible pressure. IT leaders will have to take limited capital and re-deploy it on digital strategies and technologies that will future-proof and enable the forward momentum of their business. With COVID, technology has emerged at the core as the indisputable driver of value in supporting business continuity. IT has been the lifeline in the COVID crisis. Our survey data shows that CIOs are implementing changes in their playbooks that include shifting spends to remote work, proactive security and data protection as well as cloud adoption. Our dialogues prove that IT leaders want to capitalize on the momentum of the digital transformation that has occurred as a result of the pandemic.
If your products and services directly answer the challenges IT leaders are facing in a post-COVID world, ensure your messaging and marketing are aligned with their biggest concerns.
If not, plan to pivot. Leverage these top priorities to get your foot in the door to service customers, knowing that answering their calls for help now will allow you to build relationships for the future. Use that as the gateway in to the accounts to position yourself for their strategic initiatives that are coming. Design your sales and marketing strategies to be aligned with the IT leader’s challenges and concerns. By helping them succeed, you’ll succeed in the long term.
The Launchpad has strategies in place to help you align your product and service offering to the technology needs of the market. Contact us today to set up a discovery call.